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Suzuki RE5 Rotary


I have to say we are a bit partial to this unconventional model from Suzuki. This is the first big bike that our director rode back when he was an apprentice in the '70s. There are many fond memories as we have always had one on hand in the collection for the last 35 years. Suzuki had somehow become convinced that the Wankel rotary engine was the motorcycle power plant of the future and spent a fortune developing this machine.

The engineers worked night and day in Japan while styling was done in Italy by Giugiaro. When it finally emerged the public was torn and it became one of the greatest sales flops in motorcycle history. Although the bike was smooth and handled very well, it didn't make up for other perceived shortcomings.

Capacity was only 500cc but it drank more fuel than a 1000cc just in time for a world oil crisis in 1974! Performance was the same as a 500 but the bike was bigger and heavier than most 750s. The bike was also very scary to the conventional mechanic. Water cooling was uncommon plus 3 different places for oil and then a super complicated carburettor only added to the mystery.

Some hate the styling but we laugh at the dunny roll treatment of the instruments and tail light as we have fondly called them that way since day one. Suzuki changed them after the first year believing that it was holding back sales but they were wrong. The second year styling upgrade model sold even worse, so the bike was withdrawn with heavy cash losses in 1975. Its a treasure to still have one in the collection after so many years have gone by. To this day we are still hypnotically addicted to the lumpy beat of the engine as some senses remain tattooed forever.

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